My final group garden tour of the year ended this past week with a quick, three-day trip to St. Louis.
We had beautiful weather, great travelers, and a good itinerary. We packed a lot into a few days and made some great new memories.
Our first stop was Lambert’s, the home of the throwed rolls. We ate enough food for three meals, and it was all wonderful. Many snoozed along the way to St. Louis. Once there, we checked into our hotel and had the evening free for dinner.
It stormed overnight, but the sun was shining as we headed to the Missouri Botanical Garden.
This 79-acre garden was founded in 1859 and is the nation’s oldest botanical garden, with almost 1 million visitors annually. Having grown up in St. Louis, I have been to the gardens many times. Each time I go, there are new features, and surprisingly, it has been over 16 years since I have been back. The new visitors center opened last year and is much larger than the old one, featuring a restaurant and café, plus an outstanding gift shop.
As you enter the gardens, you immediately see one of the 20 glass installations
by world famous Dale Chihuly.
Chihuly in the Garden runs through October 15.
The installations were extremely well done and blended in well with the plantings.
They were scattered all over the gardens in a myriad of forms.
The large geodesic dome (called the Climatron)
has long been a staple at the gardens since it opened in 1960. It is loaded with tropical plants, with over 2,800 plants of 1,400 species.
There was some artfully arranged glass as well.
The Kemper Center for Home Horticulture is one of my favorite parts of the garden.
The “home” is usually staffed by Master Gardeners and staff who can answer questions, but the building is closed for renovations. The 23 outdoor demonstration gardens
though are chock full of plants
and ideas you can use in your own garden.
Other new gardens to me included a large, and very well done, children’s garden.
My cousin’s granddaughter had a wonderful time exploring, climbing
and sliding, and we enjoyed the plants.
The George Washington Carver garden opened in 2005 and honors the Missouri native who was born into slavery and went on to become one of the leading agricultural scientists of his time.
The Ottoman Garden opened in 2006 and is tucked in the corner of the garden
and was a hidden treasure.
There is so much to see and do in the gardens.
We had a wonderful time exploring
and being amazed by the beautiful plants
and glass. After lunch, we headed to the Arch.
I was amazed at how many of our group had never been to the Botanical Garden or the Arch. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed them.
After the arch, we went to a lovely, quirky nursery called Maypop,
where we loaded up on must-have plants.
Our last stop before dinner was a quick driving tour (with one stop) of Forest Park,
one of the largest urban parks in the US—larger than Central Park in NY. Established in 1876, it reached its glory by hosting the 1904 World’s Fair, with some of the Fair’s buildings repurposed and still in existence today.
After a wonderful dinner at Favazza’s,
it was home to bed, for an early start the next day. On our way home, we stopped at a pumpkin farm
in Perryville where we loaded up on pumpkins and gourds of all sizes and shapes. The bus was pretty full by the time we were done shopping.
Our last stop was the Grange
at Wilson Gardens, in Wilson, Arkansas. We had a really nice late lunch, and a short tour of the facilities.
They are undergoing some renovations, so there was nothing much to see in the gardens outside but a few apples on their apple trees. The last time I visited (before Covid) the gardens were heavily planted in vegetables, as were the greenhouses. They have a lot of plans to get up and running again.
After a quick drive-by of the town, we headed home. All in all, an amazing trip, with a wonderful group of travelers!